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Sermon (2) and Liturgy for The Fifth Sunday in Lent - Year A
Ezekiel 37:1-14; Psalm 130; Romans 8:6-11; John 11:1-45
"The Raising of Lazarus"


READING:  Ezekiel 37:1-14; Psalm 130; Romans 8:6-11; John 11:1-45
SERMON :  "The Raising of Lazarus"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
a-le05sm 660000
                   
     The following is a more or less complete liturgy and sermon
     for the upcoming Sunday.  Hymn numbers, designated as VU are
     found in the United Church of Canada Hymnal "Voices United".
     SFPG is "Songs For A Gospel People", also available from the UCC.

     Sources: The children's story is one that we composed several years
     ago and re-use here.  The sermon is deeply indebted to two different
     message by Ray C. Stedman: "God's Strange Ways" Catalogue No.3860
     John 11:1-16 Thirtieth  Message - Sept 9,1984; and likewise "Death
     Conqueror", Catalogue No.3861, Thirty-first Message - September 17
     1984 - Copyright (C) 1995 Discovery Publishing.  The prayer of
     dedication is from Moira Laidlaw's (moira@liturgiesonline.com.au)
     Liturgy For Lent 5A, 2002.  The Prayers of the People are based upon
     the Thanksgiving Prayer of Bruce Prewer (www.alphalink.com.au/~nigel/) 
     for Lent 5A, 2002.  The Benediction is a more or less traditional 
     Irish Blessing - in honour of St. Patrick's Day when this message
     was first delivered.


GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)


* GREETING AND CALL TO WORSHIP  
L  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, 
   and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
P  And also with you.
L  Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of
   the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds
   on the things of the Spirit.
P  To set the mind on the flesh results in death, 
   but to set the mind on the Spirit results in life and peace.
L  Those who are led by God's Spirit are God's children, 
   the spirit dwells in them and gives life to their mortal bodies.
P  The Spirit that God gives does not make us slaves 
   or cause us to fear.  
L  The Spirit allows us to call out to God, "Abba, Father". in the
   knowledge that we are heirs with Christ to all his blessings.
P  All this is the gift of God's love to us.  
   Blessed be his name, now and forevermore. 


INTROIT:  "What Does The Lord Require Of You"                      - VU 701


ANNOUNCEMENTS AND SHARING JOYS AND CONCERNS
- Welcome and Announcements    
- Birthdays and Anniversaries     
- Special Matters      
- Sharing Joys and Concerns


TIME OF PREPARATION (music and silent prayer)


PRAYER OF INVOCATION
Most holy and gracious God - send your Spirit upon us in power this morning
and show us once again those things that you have prepared for those who
love you.  Touch us that we might know that you are present with us.  Speak
you life giving word to us that we might be strengthened.  Give us eyes of
faith to see - and hearts that trust enough to praise you - both now - and
in all the time  We ask it in Jesus' name.  Amen.


* HYMN: "God, We Praise You For The Morning"                       - VU 415


CHILDREN'S TIME: "Dry Macaroni - Dry Bones"
Object    Uncooked Macaroni
Theme     What looks bad can become good with God's help.
Source:   Self

Good Morning...  Do you ever get hungry and want something really special
to eat  - some kind of treat or favourite food???  What kinds of treats do
you like????

I am really found of Macaroni and Cheese.  When I was your age it was a
real treat to have it - and even now I love it - especially with some
hotdogs cut up into it.  How many of you like this???

Today I brought some macaroni with me in this container.  Does anyone want
some???   (Open and offer it out) Oops - there seems to be a problem.  
What do you think the problem is????

It is not cooked.  What do you have to do it make it taste OK???

This dry macaroni is like the dry bones that the prophet Ezekiel saw in the
scripture reading you will talk about when you go to your Sunday School
classes.  When Ezekiel saw all the dry bones in the valley everything
seemed hopeless to him.  There was no life anywhere - kind of like there is
no taste to this macaroni right now.  

But God told Ezekiel to speak to the bones the words that he would give
them - and that they would live.  IT doesn't seem possible does it.... dry
old bones coming to life...  But they did - when they heard God's word.

Look at this macaroni again -- it is dry and hard and not very good at all. 
 It looks like nothing can help it - nothing good can happen to it - but we
know better don't we - we know that if we take it - boil it for ten minutes
- add some cheese and hotdogs - and presto - we will have something very
good indeed..

So it is when we face something that is very hard in our lives.  Sometimes
it is hard to think that anything good can happen -- that everything is
like it was in the valley of dry bones.  But just as we know that this
macaroni can become very good - so the hard things in our life can become a
lot better.  As God brought life to the valley of dry bones with the breath
of his Holy Spirit - so God can make the worst things better in our lives
too.  And he will - when we trust him for it.  That is what the gospel of
Jesus Christ is all about.  


PRAYER AND THE LORD'S PRAYER 
   Loving God - we thank you for your Spirit - which gives life to us
   all - and for your Son Jesus - who died and who rose again - so that
   we may live forever.  Amen.

   And in the words Jesus taught us:
   
   Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom
   come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this
   day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive
   those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but
   deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, the power and the
   glory, for ever and ever.  Amen


* HYMN:  "I Danced In The Morning"                                 - VU 352


A READING FROM EZEKIEL 37:1-14 
   (NIV) The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the
   Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of
   bones.  He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many
   bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry.  He asked
   me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" 

   I said, "O Sovereign LORD, you alone know." 

   Then he said to me, "Prophesy to these bones and say to them, 'Dry
   bones, hear the word of the LORD!  This is what the Sovereign LORD says
   to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to
   life.  I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and
   cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to
   life.  Then you will know that I am the LORD.'" 

   So I prophesied as I was commanded.  And as I was prophesying, there
   was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to
   bone.  I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin
   covered them, but there was no breath in them. 

   Then he said to me, "Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and
   say to it, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come from the four
   winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.'"

   So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came
   to life and stood up on their feet--a vast army. 

   Then he said to me: "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of
   Israel.  They say, 'Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are
   cut off.'  Therefore prophesy and say to them: 'This is what the
   Sovereign LORD says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and
   bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 
   Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your
   graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you
   will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know
   that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.'"

L  This is the Word of the Lord
P  Thanks be to God.


RESPONSIVE READING - Psalm 130 (VU 853) and The Gloria Patri Sung
        
       Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy
       Spirit.  As it was in the beginning, is now, and evermore
       shall be.  World without end.  Amen


A READING FROM JOHN 11:1-16
   (NIV) Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the
   village of Mary and her sister Martha.  This Mary, whose brother
   Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord
   and wiped his feet with her hair.  So the sisters sent word to Jesus,
   "Lord, the one you love is sick."  

   When he heard this, Jesus said, "This sickness will not end in death.
   No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through
   it."  

   Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.  Yet when he heard that
   Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.  Then he said
   to his disciples, "Let us go back to Judea." 

   "But Rabbi," they said, "a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you,
   and yet you are going back there?" 

   Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who
   walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world's light.  It
   is when he walks by night that he stumbles, for he has no light." 
   After he had said this, he went on to tell them, "Our friend Lazarus
   has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up." 

   His disciples replied, "Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better."  Jesus
   had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant
   natural sleep.  So then he told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead, and for
   your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let
   us go to him."

   Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, "Let us
   also go, that we may die with him." 

L  This is the Gospel of our Risen Lord
P  Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ.


CHOIR ANTHEM


A READING FROM JOHN 11:17-29
   (NIV) On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the
   tomb for four days.  Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem,
   and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss
   of their brother.  When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went
   out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. "Lord," Martha said to Jesus,
   "if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that
   even now God will give you whatever you ask." 

   Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." 

   Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the
   last day." 

   Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes
   in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in
   me will never die. Do you believe this?" 

   "Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son
   of God, who was to come into the world."  And after she had said this,
   she went back and called her sister Mary aside. 

   "The Teacher is here," she said, "and is asking for you."  When Mary
   heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 

L  This is the Gospel of our Risen Lord
P  Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ.


* HYMN:  "O Love, That Wilt Not Let Me Go"                         - VU 658


A READING FROM JOHN 11:30-45
   (NIV) Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the
   place where Martha had met him.  When the Jews who had been with Mary
   in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went
   out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn
   there.  

   When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at
   his feet and said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not
   have died." 

   When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her
   also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.  "Where have
   you laid him?" he asked. 

   "Come and see, Lord," they replied.

   Jesus wept. 

   Then the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" But some of them said,
   "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man
   from dying?" 

   Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a
   stone laid across the entrance.  "Take away the stone," he said. 

   "But, Lord," said Martha, the sister of the dead man, "by this time
   there is a bad odour, for he has been there four days." 

   Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would
   see the glory of God?"  So they took away the stone.  Then Jesus looked
   up and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me.  I knew that
   you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people
   standing here, that they may believe that you sent me."

   When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come
   out!" 

   The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen,
   and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, "Take off the grave
   clothes and let him go." 

   Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen
   what Jesus did, put their faith in him.

L  This is the Gospel of our Risen Lord
P  Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ.


SERMON: "The Raising of Lazarus"

   O Lord, we pray, speak in this place, in the calming of our minds
   and in the longing of our hearts, by the words of my lips and in 
   the thoughts that we form.  Speak, O Lord, for your servants listen. 
   Amen.

It would be interesting to poll this congregation and ask -- what do you
think is the hardest problem to handle in the Christian life???

Your answer might be different than mine.  

For me, the hardest problem I have to handle as a Christian is what to do
when God does not do what I have been taught to expect him to do; when God
gets out of line and does not act the way I think he ought.

We have an occasion like that in the story of the raising of Lazarus from
the dead. 

John introduces this last of the great miracles of Jesus in chapter 11 in
these words:

   Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary
   and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with
   ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was
   ill.  So the sisters sent to him, saying "Lord, he whom you love is
   ill." 

When the message reached Jesus, this was his remarkable response: 

   "This illness is not unto death, but it is for the glory of God, so
   that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it." 

The remarkable thing about that is, if you carefully check out the schedule
of timing of this event, Lazarus was already dead when the message reached
Jesus.  It took two days for the messenger to get to the Jordan, so when
Jesus returned to Bethany, Lazarus had been dead four days.  

It is difficult for us to believe that Jesus did not know that because of
the insight that the Spirit of God had given him on numerous occasions. 
But he sees this as a signal from the Father that something tremendous is
going to happen in connection with it, thus he sent back this remarkable
word: "This illness is not unto death."

In verses 5 and 6 we get the real shocker here, however when we read:

   Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.  So when he heard
   that Lazarus was ill...  he stayed two days longer in the place
   where he was.

That is incredible to us.  
That is the part of the story which is hard to handle.

Martha loved Jesus; Mary loved Jesus; Lazarus loved Jesus;  and Jesus loved
them.  From the record of scripture we know that their home was filled with
love and that it was one of the most welcome havens for our Lord during his
three years of ministry.

But when Jesus hears that Lazarus is sick -  what does he do??  
He waits.

It is a tough thing to believe that Jesus deliberately waited.  We are so
used to critical illness being a signal for immediate action - wailing
sirens, flashing red lights, frantic phone calls - get right down to the
hospital, that it seems incredible that Jesus, knowing that his friend was
ill, or in this case dead, nevertheless stayed right where he was for two
more days. 

Somebody may well say,  

       "If he knew Lazarus was dead why would he hurry?  There was
       nothing he could do." 

But remember Mary and Martha's hearts were breaking. This was a dearly
loved brother, and his death would be a grievous loss to them.  Jesus'
presence with them would have been a tremendous comfort even though he
never did a thing about raising Lazarus from the dead. 

Yet, knowing that they needed him there to comfort them, 
   - knowing that they longed to have him there to the point that they
   sent a messenger to let him know the situation, 
he deliberately remained two days longer at the place where he was.

Why?  
That is the question we all ask.  
Why? 

When you have gone to God for help which you feel you desperately need 
   and nothing happens, 
when your heart is breaking over something and you need God to intervene, 
   but the heavens are silent, 
it is tough to understand, tough to accept, tough to get any kind of grip
on.
 
But what this passage is telling us is that a delay in answer like that is
not a sign of God's indifference or his failure to hear.  It is a sign of
his love.  The delay will help us.  It is for our sake.  And it is so that
Christ may be glorified through it.

Jesus deliberately delayed going to Mary and Martha because he loved them
and knew this would strengthen their faith as they learned the ultimate
outcome which God would work through Him.

That is a hard lesson to accept.  I have struggled over this many times
myself.  But it works - something we expect and long for does not occur 
and then - bingo - sometime after we think that everything is lost and that
there is no hope, God does something remarkable that totally reverses our
view.

Think of the reaction in Bethany as the messenger returned with the news
that when he told Jesus that Lazarus was ill, Jesus had said, "This illness
is not unto death."  Yet when the messenger got back with that message
Lazarus had already been dead for two days. 

What do you think the reaction of his sisters was?  
How do you think they felt? 

According to the account, two days later Jesus acts.  He says to his
disciples 

   "Let us go back Judea...  Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but
   I am going there to wake him up." 

The disciples, who had every reason to believe that if they returned to
Judea that Jesus would be stoned to death, protest, saying: 

   "Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover."  

To which Jesus replies

   "Lazarus is dead; and for your sake I am glad that I was not there,
   so that you may believe" 

Notice that Jesus says he was glad he was not there when Lazarus died, 
"for the sake of the disciples." 

Just as Jesus delayed his going for Mary and Martha's sake 
   in order that their faith might be strengthened by that delay,
   so that they might see His glory in it what will happen because of it.
So he delayed as well for the sake of his disciples
   that they might believe.

I want to tell you there have been times when I have cried out to God for
help and said, "Things are so bad it can't get any worse.  Lord, do
something. Help us."  But no answer came.  That is hard. It is hard to
believe. It is hard to wait. 

But I am gradually learning that this is never the end of the story,
gradually learning what God said so clearly through the prophet Isaiah, "My
thoughts are not your thoughts, and my ways are not your ways." 

That is what is so difficult. God is sovereign.  God is not a mortal that
he should act like we act.  There are dimensions of the problems which he
sees that we do not remotely imagine.  There are possibilities and
opportunities in every situation that we cannot conceive of.
 
So we must wait and quietly trust, knowing that he is working out
something.

       "Lazarus is dead; and for your sake I am glad that I was not
       there, so that you may believe" 

As we go in the story, as Jesus arrives at the outskirts of Bethany -  we
see that Martha greets Jesus with a phrase that must have been frequently
on all of their lips when Lazarus was sick. 

How many times must they have said, "Oh, if Jesus were only here." They had
said it so many times that it comes automatically to Martha's lips when she
meets him: "Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died."

 I do not believe this is a word of reproach.  

Martha is not saying, "Lord, why didn't you come sooner?  We sent for you. 
If you had responded we wouldn't be in this pickle."  It is clear from the
account, that she realizes that the message did not reach him until Lazarus
was dead.  Martha's word rather is one of regret: "Lord, I wish you could
have been here, because if you had, my brother would not have died."

Then she goes on to say, "But even now, even now, whatever you ask of God,
he will give it to you." 

Many ask at this point, "What does she expect? What is it that she wants
from him?"  Some commentators say that she really did expect Jesus to raise
Lazarus from the dead, pointing to her words, "Even now." 

These commentators miss the point because, of course, the very next word of
Jesus is, "Your brother will rise again." 

If Martha had any idea that would happen then, she would have said, "How
wonderful, Lord! That is exactly what I expected you to do now that you
have come." 

But she does not say that. What she says is, 
"Yes, I know. He will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." 

Clearly Martha is not looking for the immediate resurrection of her
brother.  What, then, is she looking for from Jesus?  What does she mean by
the words, "Even now, whatever you ask of God, God will give it to you?"  

We have to conclude that she is looking for his comfort, for the release
that God can give to a heart that is burdened and saddened, torn with
grief, anticipating the loneliness and emptiness of the days ahead.  God
can give marvellous inward peace.  Many have testified to that.  This is
what Martha is asking for, "Even now, Lord, even though he is gone..."

There is so much God can give us at a time like this.  As we listen to the
story we can see that Martha's faith is like the faith we so often have. 
She believes in what she thinks will happen now and then later, rather than
in what God might make happen whenever God decides to make it happen. 

How many times have you said to yourself, "I know God has worked in the
past, and I know that he will work again in the future, but today, well,
this is not the day of miracles..." 

This is Martha's faith: in the future, at the resurrection of the last day,
yes, the program of God is certain.   But for today - well - that is a
different matter.

The same thing can be said of Mary -- who greets Jesus with the same words
that Martha used: "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have
died.".

Neither Martha, nor Mary, nor any of those who accompany her to the grave
side - nor the disciples  expect what happens next.  They do not even hope
for it.

How often are we in the same position with regard to the Lord's work in our
lives?

In our brokenness - in our experience of grief - in our despair- we weep,
as Mary wept - we weep and we expect nothing - nothing but heartache for
today and for as long as we live and breath..

Jesus wept too - It says that Jesus asked where they had laid Lazarus, and
as he started out to the tomb, that "he wept".

He weeps not because he loves Lazarus - not because Lazarus has died - for
he knows what he is about to do -- he weeps because Mary weeps.  He weeps
because he is sharing the heartache of the sisters - because he sympathizes
with them in their pain..

   I read once of a little girl who hurt her finger, and she ran to her
   daddy, who was busy studying for an exam in his den.  She showed him
   her finger, but he was so caught up in what he was doing he just
   looked at it and said, "Oh, that will be all right," and sent her on
   out.  She ran to her mother, weeping and crying, and her mother
   said, "Oh, dear, does it hurt so much?"  The little girl said, "No,
   mommy, it's just that daddy didn't even say, 'Oh.'"  That is what
   she wanted, somebody to say "Oh" with her. 

In Romans 12, Paul tells us to "weep with those who weep and rejoice with
those who rejoice."  Here our Lord himself sets the example of this. 
Knowing that he is going to turn it all around, he yet feels the sorrow of
their hearts and weeps.

Now we come to the actual miracle. 

   Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb; It was a cave, and
   a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the
   sister of the dead man, said to him, "Lord, by this time there will
   be an odour, for he has been dead four days." Jesus said to her,
   "Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the
   glory of God?" So they took away the stone."

Notice how he answers.  He does not rebuke her, he encourages her in the
words, "Remember what I said."  "Did I not say to you that 'if you would
believe you would see the glory of God?" 

Then Jesus turns to do the great deed. He begins with a simple prayer.

   And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, "Father, I thank you that you
   have heard me.  I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for
   the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that
   you sent me."

Notice the many times in this account that what Jesus did he did for the
sake of the ones involved. 

Earlier he said to the disciples, "I am glad I was not there for your sake. 
He stayed two days where he was when the message reached him "because he
loved Mary and Martha."  Now he prays out loud for the sake of the people
there.

   When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come
   out." The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages,
   and his face wrapped with a cloth.  And Jesus said to them, "Unbind
   him, and let him go."

What does this miracle say to us this morning? 

One answer to that is given by the apostle Paul in his Second Letter to
Timothy. Timothy was a young man who was left in the pagan city of Ephesus. 
He had to struggle to live as a Christian in that polluted, pagan
environment, just as we have to today in our society.  He was sometimes
discouraged, sometimes defeated, facing many problems.  He was a little
afraid.  He was frail of health.  

What were Paul's words to him?     

   "Remember Jesus Christ risen from the dead.  Remember Jesus right
   where you are.  Remember he is with you." 

This is his word.  He is with you.  
He knows how to handle the situation you are in.  
He knows how to lead you through it, 
he can - and in fact will even raise the dead.
He can do anything. 

Focus your faith on him, 
not on the solution to the problem or the eventual working out of it.  

Trust in him, despite the delays 
- turn to him, knowing that he is able  
- and knowing that whatever illness may strike, with him it is never an
illness unto death - rather it may well be the pathway to new life.

Blessed be God, day by day.  Amen.



* HYMN:  "Spirit Divine, Attend Our Prayers"                       - VU 385


PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
We thank you, loving God, for the vulnerable yet wonderful gift of life. To
be alive and to know it is a unspeakable honour.  We thank you, that from
start to finish our life is precious in your sight.  May we always praise
you for it...  Lord, hear our prayer... 

We thank you, loving God,  that our movement towards death and decay is not
the final sentence in our life story.   We thank you that by your
faithfulness we are born to a new and living hope in a future where love
will never be terminated and life will never end.   May we always trust in
you... Lord, hear our prayer...

We thank you, loving God, for the Spirit that is able to cloth dead bones
with new flesh and give to them the breath of life.  We praise too for
Jesus who, by his own death, has conquered death for us all and who, by his
resurrection and offers the gift of eternal glory to all.  May we accept
your gift and walk in obedience to your living word...  Lord, hear our
prayer....

We thank, loving God, that those who believe in Christ Jesus have already
passed from death to life, and are even now fed with the bread of heaven. 
We praise you for the communion of the saints, the forgiveness of sin, and
the life everlasting.   May we ever proclaim the hope we have to those who
despair and live so that your light shines in the darkness of our world... 
Lord, hear our prayer...

Loving God,  you whose Spirit gave breath to the valley of dry bones - you
whose touch healed the lame and whose word raised the dead - hear our
prayers today for those who are afflicted by sorrow and illness, by
injustice and by despair - or by fear and weakness -- breath into their
hearts - touch their bodies - speak their names and bring new life to
them...  We especially pray today for... BIDDING PRAYER... ...Lord, hear
our prayer...

We ask all that we ask - and we give thanks for all that we thank you for 
in the name of Christ Jesus - he who lives and reigns with you and the Holy
Spirit, one God, both now and forevermore.  Amen


* HYMN: "Breathe on Me, Breath of God"                             - VU 382


MINUTE FOR MISSION


* SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS:  As the Offering is presented all stand for the
Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow - VU 541) and Prayer of
Dedication

     O God, accept and bless these gifts which we offer in response to
     the gracious gift of your life-giving Spirit to us.  May these
     gifts and our lives be used to flesh out your love and justice,
     mercy and peace as they are revealed in and through Jesus, your
     Son and our Saviour.  Amen  
 

* DEPARTING HYMN:  "Now the Green Blade Rise"                        VU 186


* COMMISSIONING (Unison):  In the power of the Holy Spirit we now go forth
     into the world, to fulfil our calling as the people of God, the body
     of Christ.
                                     
                      
* BENEDICTION AND THREEFOLD AMEN
Go in peace, love and care for one another in Christ's name,
and may the blessing of God be with you -
- May the road rise to meet you, 
- may the wind be always at your back, 
- may the sun shine warm upon your face, 
- may the rains fall soft upon your fields,
and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.  Amen.


* CHORAL BLESSING:  "Go Now In Peace"                              - VU 964


copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks, 2002 - 2006
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.


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